Sven, project manager for a Northwest mechanical contractor, told session 7B of the Leadership Development Lab,
“When I got the Turbo 5X more enthusiasm assignment at session 3, I was planning on focusing on my yard. Then shortly afterwards, I broke my finger and couldn’t hardly push a lawn mower. I didn’t know what to choose until I was reading Making Moments Matter, and it mentioned that coworkers should not have to put a paper on your chair in order for you to find it.
“So the very next morning I went into my office an hour and a half early and started clearing off my desk. The pile of papers kept growing and was quickly getting several feet tall. I was pulling out papers that were addressed to the guy who had the office before me. He had left the company five years earlier!
“After about four hours, my office was clean. I kicked my feet up on my desk and just soaked it up. The lesson I learned from this experience was that with a clean and organized office, I am able to find everything I need right away. I am not so stressed from all the stuff that I am ‘currently working on.’
“The action I call you to take is to get organized. Clear off your desk. Clean out your files. Start today without delay. The benefit you will gain is a sense of calm and personal empowerment. You know you won’t get blindsided by something that got lost in the mess on your desk.”
My experience has shown me that organizing our workspace for maximum productivity is never-ending—a life-long project—and that neatness counts. The ability to find what you need when you need it, to free yourself from distraction and clutter, reduces frustration and increases productivity. Neatness contributes to your own pride and sense of control. The added bonus is you are seen as a model of professionalism and competence by your peers and manager. You are someone your peers look up to, and your manager feels you can be trusted with additional responsibility. This helps ensure an ascending career path.
If your workspace is a mess, it may take some extra time to clean it up—perhaps an extra half hour after work for a week or so. If you don’t know the first thing about filing and organizing, you may need to ask for help (and see chapter 9 of Making Moments Matter). The time and effort are well worth it. An organized workspace saves hundreds of hours. If you have a logical filing system and label things clearly, your team can find what they need without having to dig through things or chase you down. Your efficient workspace will also inspire them to be organized, increasing the productivity of your entire team.